23 October 2002

DM Ben-Eliezer Meets Special Russian Envoy Vdovin
(Communicated by the Defense Minister’s Media Adviser)

Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer met this morning (Wednesday), October 23, 2002, with Russia’s special envoy to the Middle East, Andrei Vdovin.

Defense Minister Ben-Eliezer emphasized that today there is an opportunity to change the tragic situation in the region, however this requires that Russia and Europe take a unified and uncompromising stand against Arafat and his policy, including a halt to contacts with him and the encouragement of other elements in the Palestinian Authority.

Defense Minister Ben-Eliezer said that he is now formulating the defense establishment’s position on the Quartet "road map," which appears to contain positive elements and could serve as the basis for an operative translation of US President George Bush’s speech.

Regarding Lebanon, Defense Minister Ben-Eliezer said that the Lebanese government must be pressed into stopping its unilateral pumping of water from the Wazzani and added that Israel cannot countenance such a situation for very long. At the same time, the Lebanese government must deploy its army in southern Lebanon in order to rein in Hizbullah.

Envoy Vdovin expressed his condolences regarding Monday’s suicide bombing at Karkur junction and noted his full understanding of Israel’s right to protect its citizens and fight terror.